Why Shoes?

Shoes hold a special place in our culture. Even language reflects this: "If the shoe fits, wear it." "Walk in their shoes." "Nobody can fill their shoes."

  • Shoes are personal, everyday items.
  • Shoes tell something about every man, woman and child.
  • Shoes are a simple, eloquent human symbol.

We find shoes as powerful symbols of loss — in Holocaust museums, in poetry, and, sadly, in our own lives.

The visual concept for the Silent March — empty shoes as symbols of individual gun victims — was first used in a demonstration in 1993 by an NYC anti-gun violence group (now New Yorkers Against Gun Violence) in front of Senator Alfonse D'Amato's office, prior to the Brady Bill vote in Congress. In 1994, the organization Committee for the Silent March: Americans Against Gun Violence was formed, with intent to collect and display shoes of gun victims nationally in the hope that this massive display of loss would move legislative change.

Our message: the lives of real people, not statistics, are at stake.

Some of the shoes displayed in the Silent March are the actual shoes of gun victims, sent by mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and neighbors. Other shoes are sent by people who've never been hurt or threatened by a firearm-and don't want to be. Some are sent in memory, some in protest.